Lisa Crystal-Carver, Drugs are Nice [LC, p215]
photograph alongside Bob Heick, taken in 1989 to promote the latter's organisation, the neo-Nazi skinhead party, American Front. He has also appeared on White Aryan Resistance founder Tom Metzger's cable TV show Race and Reason, where he declared that his friends in Current 93 and Death in June were promoting a 'racialist' agenda and emphasised the importance of Industrial and Neo-Folk music for building the 'Aryan youth movement'.
Since the 80s Rice has continued to release records as well as dabbling ineptly in other media (photography, painting) and playing a leading role in the Church of Satan (he has recently been installed as its leader and 'High Priest') as well as getting involved with Grail mythology, Tiki culture, alcoholism and various other similarly moronic pastimes. Along the way he's written essays and articles outlining his evolving concerns and hobbies for a string of publications, which are collected here along with some previously unpublished writings in the book Standing in Two Circles: The Collected Works of Boyd Rice, edited by Michael Clark and published in 2008 by Creation Books. This collection offers an opportunity to pin down the peculiarly slippery Rice; 'slippery' because his defenders claim that he sets out essentially to 'provoke', which lends him a degree of insulation from the charges of Fascism that would be trivially obvious in any other context. The way this works is that Rice can openly declaim and publish Fascist and racist ideas, and yet confused fans and commentators - who have bought into the mistaken idea that provocation in and of itself is the ne plus ultra of artistic radicalism - still refuse to accept that by buying his records and attending his gigs they are financing a Fascist propagandist since, after all, he is 'merely' trying to provoke. Perhaps these people are by now so utterly stupefied that they're just grateful to anyone who can still manage to wring a response out of them - even if it's by promoting ideas that threaten themselves and everyone they know. This was brought home to me earlier this year when a photographer friend attended Rice's gig in New York to record it for a local paper. Despite the fact that this person has a background as an anti-Fascist, having watched an entire evening of Rice dressed in Fascist military gear, surrounded on stage by Sieg Heil'ing Nazi goons while projecting images of the Swastika and Wolfsangel (the SS symbol Rice used for years as his logo) and reading selections from racist, Social Darwinist tracts, and with the support groups being open White Suprematists, the best he could come up with at the end was that Boyd might perhaps be "a little dodgy". I mean, what does a Fascist have to do these days to get the recognition they deserve?
One reason that Rice's ideology is difficult to get to grips with is that he is patently stupid, meaning that people are loath to take him seriously in case it reflects poorly on their sense of humour or proportion. But that is to miss the fact that condescending to Rice's idiocy by not taking him seriously also makes it easier for him to sell his ideas. While Fascist ideology is by its very nature irrational and essentially incoherent - it doesn't seek to understand the social world in order to place it under collective human control but rather to justify post hoc the Fascist's pre-existing drive to annihilate large parts of society in the name of racial and spiritual 'purity' - this is made worse in Rice's case due to his inability to grapple in even the slightest way with history, politics or anything else requiring a modicum of intellectual focus. His arguments are confused and contradictory, and on top of this he shares the Fascist-occult regard for portents and symbols, for 'mysterious forces', innate biological imperatives, occult machinations and Chthonic powers as the determinants of history, which means that his thought necessarily has the chaotic, cobbled-together quality of childhood obsessions and superstitions.
Despite the fact that there is very little logic or sense in his thought there is nevertheless another kind of coherence at work to the extent that his obsessions cohere with those of his comrades, overlapping neatly with those of the other players in the Fascist-occult 'Apoliteic' counter-culture. Their ideas may well be an incoherent mess when considered purely as ideas, but they share them in common in practical terms as they thrust their hands into the lucky-dip bowl of Fascist esoteric idiocy to pluck out those notions they like they sound of and dole them out among their peers. So it's no surprise that in these essays Rice touches on many of the core themes that tie him to the likes of Michael Moynihan, Doug Pearce and other musicians he has collaborated with over the years (both Moynihan and Pearce provide blurb texts promoting the book; Pearce even providing a rare dash of humour when he salutes Rice as an "inspirational genius"). These people may be in different stages of denial or employing different degrees of deception when it comes to admitting their Fascist allegiances, but they all draw from the same pool of half-baked atavistic notions and gladly share what they find, disagreeing only in points of detail (and then largely only on the basis of minor variations in taste or as a matter of mutual brand positioning). Among Fascist ideologues ideas are essentially fuel for the creation of a mobilising myth, so coherence doesn't matter that much. But while it is impossible to take Boyd Rice seriously as a man or a thinker it would be irresponsible not to register the threat his ideas represent.
|Balding alcoholic Boyd Rice|
(Photo by Brian Clark)
"To conform to the edicts of contemporary Western social mores one must totally accept or reject controversial taboo subjects... In considering the issue of Nazism, for example, there can be no grey area, no possibility whatsoever that certain facets of such a subject might hold a kernel of merit or glimmer or redemptive worth... The use of Fascistic or Nazi aesthetics and symbolism is resolutely - aggressively - forbidden in all but the most comedic of contexts, while... the Hammer and the Sickle and The Red Star are so ubiquitous as to verge on countercultural corporate branding... Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini are unilaterally and universally anathematised, while their despotic Communist counterparts Joseph Stalin and Mao Tse Tung and regularly given a pass - despite the fact that the latter wrested exponentially more human life from the planet than did the former." The first thing to note about this is that it skirts the fact that Rice not only uses Fascist 'aesthetics and symbolism' but promotes Fascism itself (in the very book Clark is introducing, for example): Clark presumably hopes that the reader is as stupid as his author and won't notice his equivocation. More importantly, this line of argument exemplifies one of the defining characteristics of the book as a whole since it remains trapped entirely within the framework of a bourgeois thought. To put it bluntly, Rice and his friends repeatedly accept a liberal perception of the world and then simply reverse its particular judgements (Fascism is taboo <-> Fascism is grand). This does not allow the individual to escape bourgeois thought in the way that is promised to the consumer, but rather keeps them entirely within its clutches, albeit perhaps looking a little racier now they sport Totenkopf patches and worship Satan.
Stalinism did indeed pile up the bodies of its victims, slaughtering millions on the road to conquering and then consolidating its social power. But Stalinism and Fascism do not represent political antitheses in the way that both Clark and Fascist thought like to pretend. They are simply different forms of rule peculiar to different stages and conditions of capitalism. Both Stalinism and Fascism murdered Jews, homosexuals, national minorities,'revisionists' and backsliders, trade unionists and socialists. The difference is that Stalinism in both Russia and China did so as part of a process of primitive (state-) capitalist accumulation similar to that by which Britain, for example, achieved much the same ends at a corresponding stage of development through, eg., the slave trade and Highland Clearances (though Stalinism appears bloodier because it compressed the same phase of development into a far shorter period of time). This does not justify Stalinist violence in any way, but it begins to explain it. Fascism serves a different end and achieves it differently. It is essentially a form of emergency rule at a time of extraordinary capitalist crisis in which the working class is terrorised into submission by unleashing waves of destructive violence against any and all perceived enemies of the state, internal and external. Fascism has its ideological dimensions, of course, but in practice they are ultimately subordinate to its self-appointed task of integrating and stabilising capitalist society at times of danger to the state by liquidating it's enemies, both real (the class conscious working class) and imagined (any and all impure and degenerate elements as defined by whatever myth or prejudice inspires the particular strand of Fascism under consideration and mobilises the masses behind it). This is done in order to create an 'organic' / integral society where all the parts are subordinated to the social totality, existing only to serve it.
All of this is opaque to Clark, who talks instead like a consumer in the shopping mall of history, choosing between competing brands of totalitarianism on the basis of which is less fattening for his notional conscience. He wants to pile up the bodies and count them rather than understand the ideas that coordinated their destruction. Instead of considering the politics of Rice's Fascism he likes to present Rice simply as someone 'brave' enough to challenge the 'taboo' against Fascism, as if he might shake bourgeois society to its core merely by invoking the negative theology it shrouds itself in. But this taboo is, after all, only the socially constructed fetish of a particular epoch and doesn't mean that crisis-ridden capitalism won't reach toward Fascism again in future (there are faint indications of this already in Europe). And this turn will be made easier to the extent that ideologues and propagandists, even feeble ones like Boyd Rice, have helped clear the route back to Fascism by normalising it's anti-democratic, mythic values.
A similar logic is apparent in Clark's defence of Satanism;
"The Church of Satan is often dismissed outright as illegitimate by practitioners of more established belief systems... it's difficult to deny that conventional organised religion has been responsible for scores of large scale wars, genocides, inquisitions, witch hunts, crusades and other varieties of human strife over the centuries, but one would be hard pressed to find so much as a single example of a major conflict undertaken in the name of Satan." Once again, the ignorance of basic historical processes (if it isn't entirely feigned) is astonishing. Does he really imagine that the Crusades were simply an expression of Christian values, as opposed to social and political struggles for which the language of religion served merely as a smokescreen and ideology? Clark takes religious ideology at its own word and assigns to it a primordial power over events, as if religion created man rather than the other way about. Worse than this, in treating Satanism as merely an abstract negation of Christianity he ignores the positive content that modern Satanism has developed, which is rooted in racist and proto-Fascist ideas. Modern Satanism begins with the work of Howard Stanton Levey (aka Anton LaVey) and his Church of Satan. As is well known, the key text of his church, The Satanic Bible, which has influenced all of the main Satanist cults since, plagiarises the 19th Century Social Darwinist tract Might is Right, by Arthur Desmond (aka Ragnar Redbeard), a work brimming with violent anti-Semitism and racism. Partly as a result of LaVey's promotion of it, Desmond's book has become a favourite of modern racists, right-wing Libertarians and Fascists, and was even republished by 14 Words Press, the company founded by David Lane, the notorious Klan member who also helped lead the armed Fascist group, The Order, and who died in prison after being convicted of conspiring in the murder of Denver Radio talk show host (and Jewish anti-Fascist) Alan Berg. Entire sections of Might is Right are simply transferred wholesale into Levey's Bible. If Satanism has not yet proved as practically malevolent as Christianity in Clark's estimation it is certainly not for the want of effort on the part of those who have taken the core of Levey's teaching to its logical conclusion, such as Lane and, eg., the members of The Order of Nine Angles and other Nazi-Satanic cults.
As a collection of occasional pieces it's hard to get to grips with Rice's book as a whole. Large parts of it document his obsession with all kinds of ephemera: over the course of the book he discusses things such as novelty soaps, The Lawrence Whelk Retirement Home and Museum, bumper stickers and campaign ribbons, Disneyland, Tiny Tim, 'Leave it to Beaver', Martin Denny and Tiki bars, Mondo films, bubblegum pop and similar avowedly lightweight culture. I've heard it argued that Rice's love of trivia shows that he can't really be a Fascist since he clearly doesn't take anything that seriously (whereas Fascists are presumably permanently dour, focussed solely on their destiny and the tasks of history). But that is to seriously overestimate the Fascist mind which, in reality, feels quite at home with the banal, the kitsch and the maudlin. Rice's debunking attitude is represented as a levelling, critical iconoclasm, but in fact it expresses a much more systematic and thoroughgoing narcissism and cynicism which ultimately sees everything (other than his own übermensch ego) as essentially worthless. This conception perhaps represents the point at which Fascist narcissism blends into post-modern affectlessness. For the Fascist the social world (as opposed to nature) really is a meaningless pit. In Boyd Rice's mind a bar of novelty soap might well be the perfect symbol of the supposed vacuity of existence. The twist in his case is only that he revels in this vacuousness; "it is my view that the best way to inoculate oneself against the prevailing dystopia is to simply decide to love it" . Boyd celebrates the trivial because, as Terry Eagleton put it, "Nihilists and buffoons are allergic to the slightest hint of significance" [TE, 87].
In 'Burning the Ice' (1989) Rice recalls "one of the pivotal episodes of my youth", in which he watches through a picture window as an anonymous man within irons his shirt then makes himself a sandwich and packs his lunch before setting off in his car for work. "I was horrified", says Rice . This experience leads him into a life of desperate opposition to conventional morality, which expresses itself through his stealing money from purses he finds in the cloakroom at parties and breaking into his neighbour's flats through open windows in order to have a sniff around. Terrifying stuff. In 'Sin in the Suburbs' (1994) Rice details his early sexual experiences, including an unintentionally hilarious story about how he was told as a youngster that every time he masturbated he was destroying the millions of potential souls contained in his sperm. This naturally led him to embark on a prolonged course of intense wanking. The image of the red-faced Rice furiously pulling on his cock while fantasising impotently about annihilating non-existent Christian souls seems somehow a fitting tribute to the man and his career.
"At one time all was right with the world. It was lorded over by men who imposed their will by force. Women kept their mouths shut, underlings knew their place... In a once glorious past, woman was a creature without rights; a second class citizen... She was part cook, part whore, part servant and all child... Woman must be put in her place... These days the only way to restore balance between the sexes is by fear and pain... Rape is the act by which fear and pain are united in love... Now is the time to subjugate. Now is the time to dominate. Now is the time to rape. Let the RAPE commence. Go forth! Rise up! Rape, rape, rape!" [81-83]Clearly this was written as a provocation and, according to the reasoning usually applied to Rice, can't be taken entirely seriously. But why not? If the ideas conform to his practice we can assume that for all that these opinions are expressed so as to 'provoke', they nevertheless also represent his thinking. In her book, Drugs are Nice, Lisa Crystal Carver (aka Lisa Suckdog) details the long-term mental and physical abuse she suffered as Rice's partner and the mother of their child, leading to a brutal attack which saw her badly injured and Rice imprisoned ("Boyd strangled me and threw me against walls and bashed my head against the futon frame, [finally he] released his hands from my neck and stood up, dazed, like a big, stupid oaf and smacked his lips with the satisfaction of having given in to impulse" [LC, 309]).
Other parts of Rice's book concern individuals who have become icons for the Fascist counter-culture; Anton LaVey, Savitri Devi and Charles Manson. In 'I'll Call You Abraxas' (1994) Rice details his various meetings and interviews with Manson. Indeed, Manson gave this book it's title, having said to Rice, "I'll call you Abraxas, because you stand in two circles at once"  (Abraxas being a Gnostic deity which Rice believes, after Jung, is "the ultimate archetype", being beyond all dualities - and therefore 'beyond good and evil'). Rice claims to have been a fan of Manson since his teenage years. He also claims that it was him who took Throbbing Gristle out to Manson's old base at Spahn Ranch to have the photographs taken which appeared in Re:Search's early feature on TG, and which cemented the association between them and Manson. Naturally, Manson is a hero to Rice, and a font of tremendous wisdom;
"... he seemed to be an expert in many things... He knew about ancient history and current history, and the forces that shaped both. He seemed to posses a comprehensive overview of the history of the whole world; not just the events as they are presented, but all the unseen factors that preceded and resulted from those events." Even Rice cannot fail to notice that Manson is a fantasist (at one point he tells Rice that his supporters have hijacked a fleet of nuclear submarines and are holding the leaders of the world to ransom while negotiating his release). He also notices the disparity between Manson's supposed omniscience and the fact that, apart from anything else, he is by normal standards a hopeless loser. But that only leads Rice to conclude that Manson is "a far more complex and multi-faceted character than even I'd imagined" . What binds Rice and Manson together is a titanic narcissism which leads them to take for granted their own effortless superiority to the general run of worthless mankind (an impression which strikes me as incredible, given the poverty of the human material in question). Rice certainly approves of Manson's violent misanthropy, which mirrors the attitude expressed in LaVey's Satanic Bible and Redbeard's Might is Right. At one point Rice encourages Manson to attempt to get people to understand his point of view, to which Manson responds;
"People? Understand? People don't understand a fucking thing. They have lower awareness than turds. If this table were the world, and it was covered with turds representing humans, and you exercised complete control over them... You could move the turds from here to there... and it wouldn't make a bit of difference. Not one bit. They have no souls. No intelligence. You could flush three fourths of them down the toilet and the planet would never miss them." 
"When the person finally comes along to restore the balance in this world... There will be more blood, more death, more destruction and more suffering than there has been in the history of life on Earth. And I don't say that just because it's what all the worthless fuckers out there deserve... but because that is what will be necessary." A love of Manson's systematic misanthropy ties Rice squarely to James Mason and The Universal Order, a Nazi group dedicated to promoting Manson as a Fascist icon. Mason's book, Siege, celebrates Manson's vicious alienation and was published by Rice's friend and collaborator Michael Moynihan (and discussed in a earlier post). In the early nineties Rice appeared alongside Mason and Moynihan on radio evangelist Bob Larson's show, during which Moynihan and Rice not only defended Manson but even taunted the mother of Sharon Tate (one of the victims of the Manson Family's killing spree), who had called in to protest. Mason famously has even defended the murder of Tate's unborn baby, saying that "it was, after all, a Jew" [JM, 328].
Rice also has essays here on Anton LaVey and Savitri Devi. Both are important figures in the Fascist-occult underground; LaVey as the fantasist who founded The Church of Satan, and Devi as an obscurantist who tried to combine Fascism with ideas drawn from Vedic culture, arguing that Hinduism is the nearest thing we have today to the Pagan religion of the original Aryans. In her book The Lightning and the Sun she argues that Hitler is 'Kalik', an incarnation of Vishnu destined, according to the Vedas, to end the current cycle of world history and initiate a new age (she was clearly wrong about that, but that doesn't bother her followers). Devi was also an active Fascist, imprisoned by Allied Forces in 1949 for spreading Nazi propaganda in post-War Germany. Her work has been praised by such conspicuously un-diverse figures as repeat-offending aspirant British Führer Colin Jordan, James Mason, and 'Squeaky' Fromme from the Manson Family. As it happens Rice has little of interest to say about either LaVey or Devi, except inasmuch as he gives away aspects of his own mindset. Apart from celebrating LaVey's misanthropy ("He would often speak at great length (and in great detail) of unspeakable acts of cruelty and violence" ) he is also impressed because LaVey normally "only deals with millionaires and movie stars" [ 131]. In Devi's case he notes that "she tested as having genius level IQ" . Reified wealth, celebrity and intelligence are all equally attractive to Rice's banal mind.
Ernst Haeckel; "Man is not above nature, but in nature" . As far as it goes, this is true. The problem is that Rice's rigidly mechanical mind cannot grasp the thought dialectically, so he draws the mistaken conclusion that "man is synonymous with nature" . But this is a very different argument, and it leads to the conclusion that that part of man which is not strictly natural is abstract to the point of unreality. This is clearly a self-cancelling and redundant philosophy: to see this you need only ask yourself why somebody who believes that nature is everything, and ideas are airless distractions, would bother publishing a book at all. The point is that man, while wholly part of nature, is at the same time distinguished from it by culture, and that this culture is every bit as real and effective as nature.
To see what this implies, consider the next stage of Rice's argument, which involves pointing out that nature has no sense of right and wrong, good or bad; "Nature, unlike man, is utterly indifferent to subjective judgements such as 'good' and 'bad'" . The obvious response is to point out that the converse is equally true - that man, unlike nature, simply is not indifferent to subjective judgements. If that were not true then Rice would have nothing to rant about, and his attempts to persuade you of anything at all would be pointless. In fact, the distinction between nature and culture which Rice's entire 'philosophy' turns on is itself cultural and unnatural (but nonetheless real). It is culture that generates the dialectical distinction between ourselves and the nature that is the 'other' we transform in production: Rice's mistake is to reify this distinction and make it absolute, rather than relative.
Rice claims that "Nature adheres to an immutable order" , but in fact nature is very much mutable and has a substantial history of its own. One thing we know with absolute certainty is that nature at some point gave rise to culture. This mechanical idea of an unchanging nature is also at the root of traditional religious metaphysics. If nature was immutable then you might ask; where did humans and their culture - where did 'spirit' - suddenly arise from? The traditional answer is that God breathed spirit into matter as part of his creation, and yet this spirit is still separate from matter and exists in its own right, being 'unnatural'. In this way the crude materialism Rice advocates inevitably gives rise to religiosity and occultism ('spiritualism'), as it does with Rice himself: his book is littered with tales of ghosts (autonomous 'spirits'), uncanny happenings, mysterious portents and other such occult banalities: stupid materialism (mechanical and biological determinism) and stupid spirituality (occultism) are conjoined twins.
While Rice's explanation of his ontology and 'spirituality' are a nothing more than jumble of 19th Century solecisms, they nevertheless form the basis for the further development of his boneheaded narcissistic resentment. Having separated nature and culture his next trick is to argue that nature itself knows nothing of equality or human rights;
"In truth, the concept of natural equality is not natural at all - and in fact contradicts every dictate of nature." This naturally allows him to launch into a series of bitter tirades against 'inferiors' of every kind, who he believes have no rights and should expect no mercy, since talk of 'rights', 'equality' and so on is rooted in the unreality of culture and out of step with natural law. In an act of extraordinary special pleading he argues that the intellect is nothing to be proud of anyway, and not to be taken seriously because it is out of kilter with 'reality'. Instead he argues that man should rely on instinct alone;
"Nature adheres to an immutable order; humanity to an ever increasing chaos. Nature recognises no equality at any level of its order; humanity preaches an all-pervasive equality and freely hands out unearned 'rights'... In short: humanity is Democratic, nature is Fascist." 
"Man follows his intellect, employing logic and reason, and yet in so doing he betrays his most primal, basic desires." His trick here is to try to divide the human being schematically in two, one part (ideas and values) corresponding to culture, the other (instincts) corresponding to nature. Once again he makes absolute what is in reality only a relative distinction. Of course some human responses are more deeply wired into the physical, biological and genetic 'nature' of man than others, but certainly the 'instincts' that Boyd is covertly trying to justify (racism, misogyny, etc.) are in fact very much cultural products, as can be seen by anyone who spends any time at all considering their long development and the way that different societies have taken different attitudes towards them.
"Man's instincts will always and forever reflect the will of the natural order. Conversely, man's intellect has become divorced from the hard realities of life on earth, having instead become lost in a nebulous realm of ideas, theories, beliefs and opinions, which largely have no basis in tangible fact. Unless man's intellect comes to reflect his instinctual, soul-oriented values it will always place him at odds with himself." 
Morality too has nothing to do with nature in Rice's estimation, and so he's against it and wants you to slough it off. He believes that "a true understanding of natural law would render conventional morality obsolete." . What Rice advocates is an eternal feeding frenzy in which the strong annihilate the weak in a totally amoral struggle for domination, for "higher men disdain the lives of the weak and cowardly - slave types" . You might call this 'unprogrammatic Fascism', as he doesn't believe that things could ever be otherwise and criticises his Nazi heroes because they "still harboured the naively romantic dream that they could somehow turn the tide around" . So that is Rice's philosophy in a nutshell: Fascism without its noble ideals (like the old joke about Hitler returning to Earth and declaring "this time - no more Mr. Nice Guy").
The only remaining thing to say about Rice's cod-philosophy is how neatly it mirrors that of his hard-core Nazi friend James Mason. Both fetishise extreme alienation and violent misanthropy: Mason's Universal Order has adopted Manson as the ideal Nazi icon because of a combination of this and the fact that he has counter-cultural clout. Both believe that that the process of social 'degeneration' (from a fascist point of view: multiculturalism, democracy, etc.) is so advanced that they will support any and all violence against it. Both prioritise 'instinct' (their prejudice) over reason. And both, in different ways, are finding an audience.
This utterly stupid and offensive book should be warning enough that Boyd Rice is not a prankster and certainly not someone who should be lauded for 'pushing the envelope', but rather a Nazi who uses the cover provided by slack-jawed concepts of what constitutes radical art in order to promote - and create a focus for - the violence and hatred of a small but growing section of the Fascist movement internationally. As such he should be opposed in every possible way in order to stop his operation in its tracks, precisely as we would with any other Fascist shithead.
Unless noted otherwise, references are to Boyd Rice, Brian M Clark (ed), 2008, Standing in Two Circles: The Collected Works of Boyd Rice, Creation Books, London.
LC: Lisa Crystal Carver, 2005, Drugs are Nice, Snowbooks, London.
TE: Terry Eagleton, On Evil, Yale University Press, New Haven, CT.
JM: James Mason, 2010, Siege: The Collected Writings of James Mason, edited by Michael M. Jenkins (Michael Moynihan), introduction by Ryan Schuster, Black Sun Publications, Bozeman, MT.